D'Auria, Alessia (2020) La Collezione dei Commestibili e degli Avanzi Organici del Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli: dati archeobotanici. [Tesi di dottorato]


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Item Type: Tesi di dottorato
Resource language: English
Title: La Collezione dei Commestibili e degli Avanzi Organici del Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli: dati archeobotanici
D'Auria, Alessiaalessia.dauria@unina.it
Date: 13 March 2020
Number of Pages: 191
Institution: Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Department: Agraria
Dottorato: Scienze agrarie e agroalimentari
Ciclo di dottorato: 32
Coordinatore del Corso di dottorato:
D'Urso, Guidodurso@unina.it
Di Pasquale, GaetanoUNSPECIFIED
Date: 13 March 2020
Number of Pages: 191
Keywords: Archeobotanica, Età Romana, Storia dell'Alimentazione
Settori scientifico-disciplinari del MIUR: Area 07 - Scienze agrarie e veterinarie > AGR/06 - Tecnologia del legno e utilizzazioni forestali
Additional information: La tesi è composta da capitoli scritti in italiano e articoli pubblicati e sottomessi in inglese. Abstract e introduzione sono in lingua inglese.
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2020 15:32
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2021 14:02
URI: http://www.fedoa.unina.it/id/eprint/13185

Collection description

This research aimed to understanding the scientific and cultural value of the botanical collection stored in the national archaeological Museum of Naples (MANN). Among the archaeological areas, the Vesuvian region constitutes an exceptional case for the wealth of botanical remains. The latter were recovered in deposits, in silos, small shops, and in the houses of buried cities and were stored in different containers, and also, in the plates or pots ready to be eaten. From the 1738 the archaeological sites of Vesuvian area have produced a large quantity of botanical remains that constituted the Collection of Edibles and Organic Remains “Collezione dei commestibili e degli avanzi organici” simply called also “Collezione dei commestibili”. Today this collection is stored in the MANN; it is one of the most complete and important collection in the world due to the extensive presence of food plant remains dated to the Roman period. Such works are of great importance to ascertain the species occurring in the Vesuvian area in 79 AD. Yet often the archaeological data were basically neglected. Indeed, today it is very difficult to reconstruct the history that the finds have suffered. In general, this is due to a lack of methodology that also caused the loss of much plant material and poor botanical identification. I hypothesise that this collection could provide new and very speculative data about plant history and thus landscapes, food culture and cultural heritage. The starting point is that scholars considered this collection as a simple botanical list. My research starts with studies of the botanical identity, history, old inventories and conservation status. This work provides a first comprehensive overview of the specific features of each record of plant remains stored in the MANN. Botanical identity has been verified. The finds identified in the storerooms of the MANN correspond to a total of 178 records comprising 51 identified taxa. From comparison with the literature it may be concluded that a significant part of this collection has been lost. The archaeological and historical factors that have shaped the conservation status of the collection are also tentatively summarized. Further searches should be carried out especially in the MANN to ascertain the presence of the materials at present indicated as not found. Specific insights focused on Olea europaea and Vitis vinifera. In the collection, a large quantity of botanical remains was ascribed to these crops. During the Middle and Late Bronze Age, the olive and grapevine spread and in the Iron Age, the cultivation of these crops appears completely established. At the time of the Vesuvius eruption, these crops were cultivated everywhere around the Mediterranean basin and were well known in Roman culture. Pliny the Elder cites for Campania the presence of about 15 varieties of O. europaea while for the grapevine he indicates both the varieties used as table grapes and for wine. A review was carried out of published papers, archive documentation and inventories allowed us to reconstruct the archaeological history of these remains. In addition, the study and identification of new remains were carried out. This detailed study allowed us to discover that the storeroom conserve also “fake/modern materials”, dated to the 18th century. This work shows that a major part of the archaeobotanical remains concerning these two species described in the literature is not found in the storeroom and that for a great quantity of materials both the archaeological and historical data are lost. The loss of materials from the Roman period constitutes an important limitation for reconstructing this history and testifies to the poor management of this type of archaeological material. Another goal of this research is to reconstruct the recent Holocene history of Cupressus sempervirens from the Bronze to the Roman Age in Italy. Our work consisted both in a review of published data and in the identification of novel archaeobotanical remains stored in the deposits of the MANN and of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii. The literature permitted to collect information linked to different plant remain typologies of the Italian cypress; 362 botanical remains were counted, of which 292 were from the Vesuvian area and 70 from other archaeological sites of the central and western Mediterranean. Data chronology spans from the second century BC to the AD fifth century for the archaeological area of ancient Campania and from the 14th century BC to the AD fourth century for the sites located in different regions. It is clear that the ‘cypress culture’ is confirmed by the archaeobotanical data found in the Roman world. Romans especially appreciated its timber but cypress was also used for many other purposes. Furthermore, the employment of timber for wells was documented in pre-Roman sites and the presence of fruits/seeds in central Italy confirms its importance in the Bronze Age. Although these data are not directly referable to the presence of natural stands of cypress in the Italian forest landscape, the recent discovery of an autochthonous population of cypress in the Matese massif is congruent with the hypothesis of a presence of this tree in the late Holocene forest landscape of the peninsula. As supposed, the history of plants/food could be a great attractor for the wider public, especially because it testifies to both the Italian and Mediterranean cultural heritage from a new and uncommon angle. The great success of the exhibition Res Rustica (October 2018 – March 2019) in the MANN in Naples and the new edition in the Musée de l’Homme in Paris (March – September 2020) within the French Project “Je mange donc je suis”, demonstrates the huge interest in this collection. As a result of this interest the director of the MANN decided to plan in the Spring of 2021 the permanent exhibit of this collection inside the museum. I finally resume two works in progress: first I propose a database project that combines archaeological plant food remains with isotopic data. The idea is to reconstruct an individual human diet using stable isotope data (δ13C and δ15N), through the use of isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS), in order to provide information about dietary habits and create a reference database to be used for the study of the palaeo-diet based on archaeobotanical remains from the Roman period. Second, a work aimed to characterize, by using chromatographic and spectrometric methods, the organic content of a glass bottle guarded in extraordinary conditions in the MANN and probably coming from Herculaneum. This is the first time, in our knowledge, that a large amount of olive oil contained in an original archaeological glass bottle from 79 AD is analysed to confirm the authenticity of the organic material by radiocarbon dating and by using advanced chromatographic and spectroscopic methods.


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